Sunday, October 26, 2014
“If we could have everything we wanted in an instant without fear of consequence? No worry of jail or societal reproof of any kind? No having to look our victims in the eyes because the victims have conveniently vanished? If we could have that? Stalin’s crimes would pale in comparison to what we’d do in the name of love. In the name of the heart wanting what the heart wants.”
That sentiment is at the heart of this collection of short stories by Dennis Lehane. My absolute favourite was “Running Out of Dog”. Set in Eden, South Carolina, this is the story of a small town that wanted to put itself on the map by building a world-class amusement park. A decision to eliminate the countless stray dogs that mar the landscape brings forth a sadly morbid reality where life is a “6 year old boy sitting by the ditch, waiting to die” … just like that kid in the war who got shot in the head, but kept running with half a head for 8 to 10 steps before realizing that he was already dead.
I also liked “Until Gwen”, the story of a con man and his son, both battling over a missing diamond. It was as much a picture of broken relations as it was a clever skirmish over lost treasure. (I did not much like the play version of this story; it seemed dragged out for no reason).
While “ICU” had quite an interesting idea at its core - a man who sits outside the ICU unit of different hospitals, pretending he has family within - the overall purpose of the events was not very clear.
I did not much care for the other 2 stories, “Gone Down to Corpus” and “Mushrooms” - both revolved around petty criminals whose actions were neither very interesting nor driven by some great motivation, and I just could not get into it.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
A post-apocalyptic world where houses and malls have been ransacked and the streets are deserted ... save for the fearsome image of people wandering about, a danger to themselves and all others around them.
Kenneth Calhoun takes us to a world where prolonged insomnia has ravaged the minds of people affected by a phenomenon - the cause of which remains unexplained, the remedy to which, a distant hope.
Starting from a slight flutter of a black shadow at the corner of their eye, to a breakdown in language, to that final descent to madness which sees a horrific clash between the sleepless and the sleepers; the best part about this story was the fact that nothing is fully explained; we are neither told where and how it all started - nor are we given all encompassing answers in one grand finale.
Through different points in the tale, we follow several key characters as they deal with this nightmare ... we see Biggs desperately try to find a cure for his wife Carolyn ... we see Lila's parents with just enough sanity left to chain themselves to a table and send their daughter away for her own safety ... we see Adam and Jorie, married couple, and that horrific incident involving their new born baby ... we follow Chase and Jordan, high school friends on a road trip, and we see Chase slowly succumb to the madness (that final lap with a truck full of sheep and the axe-wielding maniac that he becomes, was truly terrifying) ... and we see the scientist Kitov become the first to test a possible cure to the disease ... Much like the hallucinatory experience of the insomniacs, I too got sucked into this eerie dystopian world where terror and despair rule.